Veteran keeper Pepe Reina had a bounce-back season for Liverpool this term, but he probably won’t be in the Reds’ long-term plans. If Brendan Rodgers can manage to acquire Barcelona’s Cristian Tello in return, the Anfield boss has to pull the trigger.
According to David Maddock of Mirror Football, that’s the deal being discussed:
Liverpool will demand exciting young striker Christian Tello in exchange for Barcelona target Pepe Reina.
The Spanish giants believe the knowledge and experience of former Nou Camp starlet Reina make him the perfect candidate to replace their first-choice goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who is expected to leave the club in the summer.
Victor Valdes has long been expected to find a new home following this season, and replacing the keeper should be one of Barca’s top priorities. But to obtain a quality replacement, they will have to offer up a piece worth the price.
Barcelona isn’t without an already-talented group of forwards, including the likes of Lionel Messi, David Villa and Alexis Sanchez. Tello has a ton of potential, but he’s an expendable piece if Barcelona hopes to fill their imminent void in the net.
For Liverpool, the exchange is a no-brainer.
The forward has a release clause of £8.5 million, but according to Maddock, Barca are willing to offer up as much as £10 million to obtain Reina from the Reds. Given the friendly financial aspects of such a deal and the tremendous upside Tello offers as a young, versatile striker (and exactly the kind of player Rodgers should be looking for), Liverpool would be foolish to balk at such a deal.
The 21-year-old has to be unhappy with his current situation. After playing in just 11 La Liga affairs this season, Tello will undoubtedly be looking to make a bigger impact next term. In order to do so, he may have to find a new club willing to give him consistent playing time.
Liverpool could certainly be that club. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are sound building blocks on the front line, but adding another striker like Tello would all but ensure a tremendous group of forwards to carry into next term. Given Suarez’s recent disciplinary issues, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add another scoring threat as insurance.
Tello’s time at Camp Nou started even better than expected, and it appeared the 21-year-old would find a permanent place in Barca’s starting XI. But that impressive start also raised questions about what would happen if Tello were relegated to a second-string role, left to stand on the sidelines as Barcelona’s talented group of forwards soaked up most of the playing time without him.
Some of those questions could be answered if Tello demands a transfer this summer.
It’s no secret Rodgers would be hesitant about dealing his keeper this summer, but Reina should be viewed as an expendable piece if Liverpool hope to create sustainable long-term success. At 30 years old, he still has some gas left in the tank, but he isn’t the youthful building block Liverpool would find in Tello.
Of course, replacing Reina in goal would be no easy task. Despite his struggles early in the season, he put together a terrific 2012-13 campaign and proved himself a strong leader on a surging squad.
Still, Rodgers has to consider the reward of moving his veteran keeper, even if it means losing a player who can still be a valuable contributor in the next two or three seasons. He has three years left on his contract, but how many of those will yield productive years? How many productive years could Tello potentially provide on a new deal at Anfield, too?
Reina is certainly a popular player, and a move from Anfield wouldn’t be ideal, but Tello offers too much potential to shy away from such a move. Long-term success has to take precedent over popularity and emotional connections.